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Zion to miss first week of NBA season

Zion Williamson AP FILE PHOTO

NEW ORLEANS:

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson is now expected to miss at least the first week of the regular season because his recovery from surgery to repair a right foot fracture is taking longer than anticipated.

“Nothing has gone wrong and there is no setback,” Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin said after practice Thursday (Friday in Manila), adding that Williamson will be reevaluated in about two-and-a-half weeks. “It just takes a certain period of time” for bones to heal and “every player is different.”

The Pelicans first made public Williamson’s health status on the eve of training camp last month, and Williamson said then that he planned to be ready to play in time for New Orleans’ regular season opener October 20 against Philadelphia.

Griffin said that while doctors are “very encouraged” by the progress of Williamson’s recovery, they want him to delay his return until after they’ve had an opportunity to reevaluate bone scans of his repaired foot.

The Pelicans have seven regular season games scheduled between their opener and the end of October.

Doctors who reviewed images of Williamson’s foot this week “were very encouraged by the healing evidence there,” Griffin said. “They are very optimistic he will recover from this, and they have cleared him to continue his progression.”

The 21-year-old Williamson, who is 6-foot-7 and about 280 pounds, was cleared Wednesday to do running and one-on-none individual work, which he began Thursday morning, Griffin said.

Williamson, a former Duke star selected first overall in the 2019 NBA draft, averaged 27 points per game in 61 contests last season. He was limited to just 24 games his rookie campaign, largely because of a prolonged rehabilitation from arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

While the initial timeline for his return from knee surgery was six to eight weeks, he wound up missing more than half of the season before making his NBA debut in late January of 2020.

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